According to reports, claims of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) that nuclear power is cheaper than solar energy has been demolished by Indian solar energy entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs have come forward to set up solar power stations at a cost of Rs10 crore per Mw. Earlier it used to cost Rs15 crore for setting up a 1 Mw solar plant. Entrepreneurs claim that they could set up a 1 Mw plant with Rs10 crore,” said GM Pillai, director general, World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE). Pillai, a senior IAS officer, is on deputation to WISE.
Two reactors —each of 1,000 MW —are being set up at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant at a cost of Rs13160 crore. “But it is the official estimate. Details of hidden costs have not been included in this figure. Once the cost of operation, maintenance and safety factors are taken into account, this figure it will shoot up by twice,” he said.
Dr Surendra Gadekar, former professor of the Indian Institute of Science, said the government is heavily subsidizing the nuclear power stations and these details do not find place in the account books. “The comptroller and accountant general has calculated that the pressurized heavy water reactors get heavy water at the rate of Rs800 per kg though the same costs Rs30,000 in international market,” he said.
Interestingly, a new study by different wings of the union government says that Tamil Nadu has the potential to be the power house of south India even if the Kudankulam plants are shut down.
“The state has immense potential to harness solar power because it receives sufficientsolar radiation for 10 months a year,” Pillai pointed out. Surendra Pimparkhedkar, senior fellow, WISE, says the state need to put just five per centof the total available waste landto generate 21,700 Mw of clean and green energy.
Pillai pointed out that a 100 Mw solar power station could be set up in two year’s time.“A conventional thermal or nuclear power station takes a minimum of six years for completion,” he added.